Nick DeLuca was the Isaac Aakre of the Millard North defense, a well-respected leader.
DeLuca lived up to his preseason World-Herald Super Six selection as the Mustangs' defensive anchor at linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior led the team in total tackles with 103, including a team-high 11 in the 17-14 victory over Omaha North for Millard North's second state title in three years.
“The purest form of leadership is by performance,'' Millard North coach Fred Petito said. “Nick doesn't say a lot, but he practiced hard, prepared well, was in the weight room in the offseason. His day-to-day regimen inspired our younger players.”
DeLuca and Aakre are the honorary captains of The World-Herald's 49th All-Metro Conference football team. Aakre was an All-Metro captain last year after making the second team as a sophomore.
A 5-11, 190-pound senior, Aakre broke Danny Woodhead's Class A career rushing record by finishing with 5,231 yards. The first Millard North sophomore to be the starting quarterback in the season opener, Aakre also threw for 1,654 yards to end No. 2 on the all-time Class A list for total yards with 6,885.
“Isaac's not a guy who holds the ball and gets rocked while standing still. He's going to finish the run, not accept the blow,'' Petito said. “His yards after contact were great. He's taken some shots, too, but he's dealt out some as well.”
Millard North has six of the 24 players on the All-Metro first team. Other Mustangs honored are offensive lineman Mike Milenkovich, kicker Andy Bayne, defensive lineman Steven Graeber and defensive back Clay Fisher.
This year's first team is one of the youngest in recent years, with two sophomores and seven juniors. The sophomores are from Omaha North, running back Calvin Strong and offensive lineman Michael Decker.
Selections on offense are wide receivers Tra-Deon Hollins of Omaha Central and RJ Urzendowski of Omaha Creighton Prep; linemen Casey Sayles and Decker of Omaha North; Lee Carhart of Creighton Prep; Matt Kraft of Millard South and Milenkovich; backs Lane Yates of Omaha Westside, Strong and Aakre; quarterback Alec Ditoro of Papillion-La Vista; and Bayne at kicker.
The defensive unit consists of linemen Bryce Sosnowski and Freeman Coleman of Millard South, Harrison Phillips of Millard West and Graeber; linebackers Harrison Jordan of Westside, R.J. Jones of Central and DeLuca; defensive backs Skyler Monaghan of Millard West, Trey Carr of Omaha Burke, Quentin Williams of Millard South and Fisher; and punter Andy Gelb of Bellevue East.
Kraft, Aakre, Sosnowski and DeLuca are two-time selections.
All-Metro selections are based on observations by sports staff and by nominations from Metro Conference head coaches. All 16 coaches received their nomination forms at a meeting to select all-district teams and list players they deemed worthy of all-district honorable mention.
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